The Old Testament and God
Southwestern Journal of Theology 2022 Book Award (Biblical Studies)
Craig Bartholomew's The Old Testament and God is the first volume in his ambitious four-volume project, which seeks to explore the question of God and what happens to Old Testament studies if we take God and his action in the world seriously. Toward this end, he proposes a post-critical paradigm shift that recenters study around God. The intent is to do for Old Testament studies what N. T. Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God series has done for New Testament studies.
Bartholomew proposes a much-needed holistic, narrative approach, showing how the Old Testament functions as Christian Scripture. In so doing, he integrates historical, literary, and theological methods as well as a critical realist framework. Following a rigorous analysis of how we should read the Old Testament, he goes on to examine and explain the various tools available to the interpreter. He then applies worldview analysis to both Israel and the surrounding nations of the ancient Near East. The volume concludes with a fresh exegetical exploration of YHWH, the living and active God of the Old Testament. Subsequent volumes will include Moses and the Victory of Yahweh, The Old Testament and the People of God, and The Death and Return of the Son.
Introduction: A Road Map for The Old Testament and God
Part 1: What Should We Do with the Old Testament?
1. Old Testament Origins
2 Israel among the nations
3 Palestine: the land
4 The land of Israel: different views in the Old Testament?
5 Land and the different dimensions of the Old Testament
6 What then shall we do with the Old Testament? The case for a new paradigm
Part 2: Tools for the Task
2. Knowledge: Towards a Critical Realist Paradigm
3. Narrative, Literature, Reading and World View
2 Stories and narrative
4 Traditions and paradigms
5 Conclusion: Narrative, tradition and Old Testament studies
6 Narrative, literature and reading
8 World view
4. History in/and the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East
2 The nature of history
3 The Old Testament and history
4 History from the perspective of the Old Testament
5. Theology, Authority and the Old Testament
1 Introduction: From literature and history to theology
2 The Old Testament and theology
3 A critical realist theology
Part 3: The World Views of the Ancient Near East
6. Ancient Near Eastern World Views
2 Myth in the Ancient Near East
3 Myth in the Old Testament
4 The world view/s of Ancient Egypt
6 The Sumerian world view
7 The Hittite world view
8 The Assyrian world view
9 The Babylonian world view
10 The Aramean world view
11 The Phoenician world view
12 The Canaanite world view/s
13 The Persian world view
7. God and the gods of the Ancient Near East
1 The Mosaic distinction and translatability
Part 4: The God Who Approaches
8. God in/and the Old Testament: the Living God
2 The living God
3 Historical narrative and the living God of the Old Testament
4 The living God and metaphor
5 yhwh as king
6 Psalm 93: yhwh as king: a world view and a view of history
8 Divine action in the Old Testament
"Within the sometimes-bewildering world of Old Testament scholarship, with its modern and postmodern presuppositions, Craig Bartholomew charts a new way forward, one that takes fully seriously the historical, literary, and theological dimensions of the Old Testament--and above all takes the God of the Old Testament fully seriously as one who acts and reveals. For anyone who finds the Old Testament irrepressibly fascinating, this will be an exciting, learned, and coherently argued book."
Richard Bauckham, emeritus professor of New Testament studies, University of St. Andrews
"Craig Bartholomew brings his wide knowledge and insight to the question of God in the Old Testament. His training and sensibilities as both an Old Testament scholar and a philosopher are on full display here. This book, the first of four, is a big book in the best sense of the term. He considers the most important questions and utilizes the best approaches to our study of the Old Testament. In my opinion, Bartholomew sets the study of God in the Old Testament on its proper foundation, which makes this essential reading for all scholars and serious students alike."
Tremper Longman III, Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
"Only Craig Bartholomew could have written this book! The range of interlocutors is vast; Old Testament scholars mingle with philosophers, literary critics, and historians of the ancient Near East, and Bartholomew's immensely creative and constructive mind orchestrates a powerful symphony by means of a running commentary on the scholarship. At the heart of the matter is the possibility--indeed the firm conviction--that the living God has revealed himself to Israel. A joy to read, this book should fund a new and multifaceted conversation grounded in the question of God."
Matthew Levering, James N. Perry Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
"Many of us were apprenticed into the guild of Old Testament scholarship under the paradigm of alleged academic 'objectivity' in which 'God' could not be the subject of a sentence that presumed his living reality and power, other than as a fictive character in the narrative. Craig Bartholomew challenges that paradigm in a way that enables an encounter with the living Scriptures to be an authentic encounter with the voice of the living God."
Christopher J. H. Wright, global ambassador and ministry director, Langham Partnership
"This opus breathes intelligence, learning, and creativity as it frames what it means--and could mean--to study the Old Testament. True to form, Bartholomew assesses the academy critically with breadth of vision and philosophical rigor. He methodically advances a theological vision of the Old Testament that takes as fundamental its kerygmatic force. Faith and theology inform Bartholomew's work as resources rather than obstacles, while rightly he pleads for genuine pluralism in the academy. Although it will be possible to interrogate Bartholomew's argument, it will be impossible to ignore it. This volume exhibits the characteristics of a classic."
Heath A. Thomas, president and professor of Old Testament, Oklahoma Baptist University
"In this introductory volume Bartholomew makes an impressive start to a project that seeks to do for the Old Testament what N. T. Wright has done for the New Testament. A great strength of his approach is an in-depth philosophical and methodological awareness. This enables him to provide a sharp critical evaluation of a number of traditional scholarly views. His careful attention to the historical, literary, and theological dimensions of the Old Testament sheds new light on many disputed issues and illuminates the rich Old Testament portrayal of the living God."
Philip Jenson, teaching associate in Old Testament, Ridley Hall, Cambridge
"Who but Craig Bartholomew could have imagined this book, much less actually written it? In The Old Testament and God, Craig takes the reader on an exhilarating quest to answer the biggest question not only in biblical studies but in our lives: the question of God. Along the way, Craig introduces us to a vast array of voices, from philosophers and historians to narrative critics and specialists in the ancient Near East. The end result is part manifesto, part invitation. The Old Testament and God is sure to guide and inspire students and scholars alike."
Michael J. Rhodes, lecturer in Old Testament, Carey Baptist College
"In this far-reaching and ambitious work, Bartholomew compellingly contends for an audacious notion: the Old Testament needs God and, above all else, enacts deific truth. This claim stands in sharp contrast with modernity reinforced by its tacit atheism and sardonic rejection of the supernatural. Consequently, the most central aspect of the Scriptures is absent in most post-Enlightenment biblical criticism. The Old Testament and God models an alternative, post-critical approach that is both overtly theistic and particularly Christian."
H. H. Hardy II, associate professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southwestern Journal of Theology 2022 Book Award (Biblical Studies)
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